Like a lot of common conditions, anaemia has been wrapped in a lot of misconceptions and folklore. Lack of education about anaemia can prevent women from taking proactive action in seeking care, which could lead to more complications later on in life, particularly during pregnancy.
What are the symptoms of anemia?
Anemia has many form, with its own cause. Depending on the cause and severity of anemia, you can either have subtle or no obvious symptoms. These are some of the common symptoms of anemia:
- Pale skin
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pain
- Irregular heartbeats
- Cold hands and feet
We’ve provided medically-verified truths about anaemia below to counter the most common myths you might encounter.
Myth #1: Vegetarians and vegans have an increased risk of anaemia.
Fact: The jury is still out on this one. Multiple studies have shown that vegetarians are at higher risk for iron-deficiency anemia, but there are just as many studies that refute this. Many meat and dairy products have high levels of iron, but other modifications to your diet can ensure that you are receiving a sufficient number of nutrients from your food. Dark leafy vegetables are an excellent source of iron and nutrients. And remember, nutrient deficiency is not the only cause of anaemia.
Myth #2: Anaemia is largely genetic.
Fact: In some cases, anaemia can be caused by genetic blood disorders such as thalassemia. The prevalence of thalassemias range from 3-15% in certain parts of India. However, the majority of anaemia cases are acquired through a nutrient deficiency or chronic illness.
Myth #3: Children are more likely to suffer from anaemia.
Fact: While iron-deficiency is common among infants and young children, it is not limited to this age group. Anaemia can occur at any time in one’s life, and pregnant women are especially susceptible.
Myth #4: Untreated anaemia can cause leukaemia (a type of blood cancer).
Fact: Both diseases occur in the blood, but anaemia cannot directly progress into leukaemia. However, anaemia can be a symptom of leukaemia; as leukaemia cells multiply, there is little room left for healthy red blood cells, and when your red blood cell count drops below normal, anaemia can occur.
Myth #5: Adults or children with anaemia cannot exercise
Fact: It may be challenging to exercise due to the lack of oxygen caused by the low number of red blood cells, and activity may be more strenuous, but there is no danger in exercising.
Learn More with Veera Health
Anemia is very common in women and can go undetected for years. Depending on the cause of anemia, there are many treatment options available, if you suspect having anemia, speak to our experts at Veera Health who can help you guide better.
Disclaimer: Content on Veera is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended as medical advice, or as a substitute for medical advice given by a physician.
References: Pawlak R, Berger J, Hines I. Iron Status of Vegetarian Adults: A Review of Literature. Am J Lifestyle Med. 2016;12(6):486-498. Published 2016 Dec 16. doi:10.1177/1559827616682933